Today I attended a football game between the University of Washington “Huskies” and the “Sooners” of the University of Oklahoma, having acquired a ticket to the game through the generosity of a classmate of mine (who was going out of town for the weekend).
As Candace would be up in the city (for job-related training) until after the game had already started, Benjamin graciously agreed to look after my children until my wife returned home.
I left the house at mid-day and walked to the stadium, joining the procession of pilgrims towards the great temple to Sport that rests cradled within the midst of the many temples that have been erected to the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities. Art as Artifice and Culture as Ritual.
Rushing multitudes, clad in myriad shades and varieties of Crimson garb pass all around me. The air was thick with the smoke of burning meat and tobacco. Voices swirled throughout the corridors of the stadium.
Thousands upon thousands gather for a measured 60 minutes of hate, with occasional commercial interruption. Underneath it all, the rumble of a sleeping dragon – soon to awaken.
The crowd reacts wildly when he throws his head back and dashes fifty yards across the field, legs pumping in an exaggerated goose-step – quite an rather impressive display of athleticism, really.
I cannot help but laugh involuntarily at the spectacle of it – both the manic prancing of the Drum Major combined with the cascading ovation pouring forth into the stadium from all sides.
Minutes pass slowly, the stadium continues to fill, filling itself to capacity – the stadium, gorging itself on humanity, is drunk on bloodlust and competitive fire.
The “we” must conquer the “they” invaders that have dared to enter our temple without the sacred insignia.
Every second is taut-nerve agony of anticipation. I see the strained faces of glad madness, white-knuckle strain waiting. They cannot wait any longer. It is time!
A great hush falls upon the crowd as the massive scoreboard video screen comes to life, playing an introductory video – hearkening back to the past champions of bygone days, and drawing connecting skeins to the young titans of this present hour.
When each name of a former champion is mentioned (as well as that of his present-day counterpart), the masses roar forth in grateful remembrance – as to lay hold to the temporal immortality that aged warrior claims, in remembering his former greatness. Because I remember you, you will live forever – and I shall live forever in the remembering. Verily, there is only one Oklahoma.
Our champions stride upon the field, in armor of glistening Crimson, revered color of the pagan gods of ancient days. “Red is the gods` color; you will need their help today.”
Under this sonic haze of sound and fury, the game begins…
The two teams begin with tactics designed to keep the other off-balance, probing for an early way with which to swing the fickle maiden of Momentum into their favor.
Washington, though certainly rattled by the hostility which surrounds and penetrates them, plays fast and loose – guided by that wild despair which comes from knowing that one`s fate is fixed in certain defeat. They gamble when they should hold back, and play it tight to the vest when it seems they should risk. While I have some difficulty in understanding precisely the coach’s particular tactics, I can discern their recklessness as a governing dynamic in itself.
Alternative, Oklahoma has no such luxury – for they are the favored competitor, and have much at stake with every exchange. While the coaches tactics seems ordered and disciplined, the players’ reactions betray their overaggressive desperation toward immediate subjugation. In looking to deal the deathblow with every strike, they leave themselves vulnerable to being progressively disemboweled by their enemy`s patience.
However, as the game wears on Oklahoma slowly grinds Washington into the stadium floor.
The Huskies are simply outmanned on defense, as Sooner bulwark Adrian Peterson beats down their forward wall – leading the charge for his teammates to find their own footholds. At the same time, the Washington offense is slowly strangled by the bigger and faster Oklahoma defenders.
Washington scores some points late in the game, as the reserves test their mettle, but by then the game is already decided.
The sunlight fades into the glorious colors of a Southern sunset, and all is well in Norman, for their champions are triumphant.
With the eventide will be great feasts and inebriating revelry – may they eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow…